Booklist’s Annual Craft Disaster: 2017

With our Spotlight on Crafts and Gardening once again upon us, the Booklist Youth Department again decided to see how well they worked for true crafting novices: us. Last year didn’t exactly work out so well (though the rock-hard cardboard sleep mask still wows visitors to the office), but now we’re a year older. A year wiser. A year more knowledgeable about our crafting limits.

Well, it didn’t help. Our 30-minute time limit still didn’t seem long enough to scrape the glue off of our fingers much less assemble some sort of recognizable object. But we were locked in: we’d already drafted Booklist Production Editor Chris Simon to blindly judge the results, and he, in his own words, “accepted this great honor.”

Caution: We now present the “crafts.”


Sarah Hunter, Senior Editor

THE BOOK: Think and Make like an Artist, by Claudia Boldt & Eleanor Meredith
THE CRAFT: “Objects with Attitude”


The book I chose for this year’s disaster was less a follow-these-directions-to produce-this-object book than a here’s-a-vague-suggestion-do-whatever-you-want type of deal, so I approached my craft in that very spirit. “Objects with Attitude” suggests cutting out facial features and attaching them to “objects you want to bring alive.” I started with some basic eyes, mouth, and one ear, but my favorite feature was a mismatched pair of boots I cut out of the end-papers of a picture book, which I attached to spindly legs. Once I had my body parts, I needed to choose my object to bring alive. My closest object—Briana—was already (and remains) alive, but inspired by Think and Make Like an Artist’s loosey-goosey directions, she became even more alive. Or, her jacket did, anyway.


Daniel Kraus, Editor

Curious Jane, by Sterling
“Twinkly Fox Ears”


The best crafts are the crafts you can wear. Ripping dried glue from your hair and extracting glitter from your nasal passages builds character. I chose animal ears because they are cute. This was a potential blunder on my part. Given my lack of a glue gun and also my lack of talent, cute might quickly become horrifying. But, I don’t know, I think it’s still kind of cute? Curious Jane suggested adding LED lights(!) in the ears, but Booklist was a little short on LED lights. So my innovation was a nose! Like, a cute little animal nose that draped down the front of the face! Everyone else thought it was an elephant tail, but I knew. In my heart I knew.


Maggie Reagan, Associate Editor

Dollar Bill Origami, by Jane Yates
“Dollar Bill Airplane” + bonus bug


I know it’s a little #Off-Brand for the Books for Youth department, but I hate crafts. Hate ‘em. All kinds. Anything DIY strikes fear into my heart. This all stems from childhood probably—a terrifying, craft-obsessed babysitter—but also I’m just bad at them. Alas, I was forced into this for the second horrible year in a row, so I just origamied a dollar bill into a tiny hat and called it a day. Needless to say, I did not win.


Briana Shemroske, Editorial Assistant

Pipe Cleaner Projects, by Jane Yates
“Pipe Cleaner People” + wrapping paper dress



I know what you’re thinking: “I saw this very craft hanging from a tree in the first season of True Detective.” But you’re wrong. This masterpiece is actually an adorable “Pipe Cleaner Person.” Thanks to Jane Yates’ Pipe Cleaner Projects, some miscellaneous pipe cleaners, wrapping paper, sticky letters, tons of tape, and 15 minutes of failed projects, I’m able to present you with this understated beauty, a creation that rendered judge Chris Simon utterly speechless. In need of a perfect holiday gift? Daily pick-me-up? Or craft that involves little to no direction reading? The Pipe Cleaner Person is for you. In all honesty, I think the Pipe Cleaner Person is for everyone.


Julia Smith, Associate Editor

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures, by DK
“Jolly Jellyfish”


Ah, jellyfish. Nature’s brainless beauties. Their anatomical simplicity and stunning appearance make them the perfect subjects for an elementary art project. Last year I learned that judges regard drawing as a lesser form of art, no matter how impressive. It’s fine. Really, I’m over it—and I wasn’t about to waste my talents a second time. So, at the start of the timer, I grabbed some scissors and dove right in. With only four steps, this craft was just my speed. A surprising number of things in my life are governed by the question: Would a seven-year-old like this? Books, obviously, but also food and clothing. I’ll take a grilled cheese and polka-dots over fine dining in black any day. But back to the project, which, for the record, any seven-year-old could accomplish with ease. I happily shredded fabric and squiggled gold tendrils out of felt for my jelly’s tentacles. I splashed watercolors onto its paper-plate body and taped the glorious mess together. With mere minutes remaining, I added my somewhat controversial pièce de résistance: carefully stitching to one of the tentacles a Scandinavian Swimmer (that’s an aquatic gummie candy, for the confectionerily clueless). Remember, nature can be shocking and murderous, and with this final detail, I believe I truly captured its essence.


Our judge appraises the winning entry.

At last we rose to attention for Judge Chris, who coolly surveyed our masterpieces, one by one, poking and prodding at them quizzically while we chewed our nails in anticipation. It became quickly evident that the judge was not bowled over by Dan’s ear-and-nose combo, Maggie’s cash plane, or Briana’s demented pipe-cleaner psycho.

It was down to Sarah’s abstract jacket art or Julia’s paper-plate-and-gummy-candy atrocity. Perhaps worrying that awarding Julia would only encourage future misappropriation of snack foods, Judge Chris deemed Sarah the winner. Cardboard shapes on your clothes—it’s a fad waiting to happen.

Get on in!



Posted in: Books and Authors

About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

Post a Comment